Fancy trying some traditional Basque recipes, like pintxos or Txakoli? Want to enjoy the city’s beauty and natural parks, or breathe in the Cantabrian sea air as you discover some really special fishing towns? Are you itching for a deep dive into a unique culture? Bilbao Bizkaia is the place for you!
As temperatures drop and days draw in, the calmer and more relaxed side of Bilbao Bizkaia begins to reveal itself, and there are some more chilled-out activities for you to get up to.
If you’re a #FoodLover, here’s something you should know: the bars of Bilbao Bizkaia are brimming with pintxos, the delicious mini gems in our culinary crown. You should also know that our traditional food is based on recipes handed down from generation to generation, and uses the finest produce our little hamlets have to offer, as well as the catch of the day hauled in at the ports. All of that is combined with our passion for good food and sharing it with family and friends. That’s why tucking into some pintxos and local favorites is one good way to get to know Bilbao Bizkaia.
If cities are your thing and you’re an #UrbanLover, you’ll love the contrasts that a city like Bilbao has to offer: the combination of tradition and cutting edge, the bustling streets and quiet corners, the variety of ways you can spend your free time, and the culture and tranquillity of the natural environment surrounding the city.
Enveloped in a ring of green mountains and forests, Bilbao combines peaceful urban parks with the rhythm of a cosmopolitan city, the footprints of its industrial and mining past with modern architecture, wide open avenues with narrow medieval streets, the past with the future, ground-breaking cultural offerings with deep-rooted traditions, and experimental cooking with traditional dishes.
The city is also a modern open-air museum, home to artistic buildings and sculptures created by well-known local and international artists, so it’s perfect for #ArtLovers. Enjoy getting acquainted with our culture – there are a number of events and spaces for you to visit. Awaiting you are, amongst others, the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum or the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, each with an engaging catalogue from different periods of art history. There’s stuff to get up to all year round at either the Palacio Euskalduna, the Teatro Campos Elíseos, the Teatro Arraiga or in the extraordinary Azkuna Zentroa, with columns designed by Phillipe Starck.
If you’d rather disconnect and let your #NatureLover side out, Bilbao Bizkaia is over 83% forests and fields, and the green mountains extend all the way down to meet the blue sea. It’s a unique natural environment bursting with life, and it’s home to a wide variety of natural landscapes where you can go hiking, cycling along cycle routes, horseback riding, climbing, spelunking, or even be a shepherd for a day. We just ask you enjoy this natural environment with the same love and respect that we in Bizkaia have for it.
If you’re a #SeaLover and you prefer the blue over the green, Bizkaia has 150 kilometres of coastline comprising a series of enormous, wave-defying cliffs, wide bays, immense sandbanks at the feet of verdant mountains, fishing ports harbouring ancient traditions, and small coves where you can relax in some untouched nature.
From Muskiz to Ondarroa, there’s an enormous variety of the most enticing activities along our coastline, from visiting beautiful fishing towns and discovering unique locations such as San Juan de Gaztelugatxe to tasting and buying all manner of freshly-caught delicacies… And there are all kinds of sports on offer on the 28 beaches of the Bizkaia coastline, such as surfing, canoeing, and paragliding… Alternatively, uncover incredible sandy areas and stroll along the coastline, which holds back the assault of the Cantabrian sea.
And if you’re a #BasqueLover looking for a special connection to our culture, you’ll know that mythology is also part of our day to day life (all the more so if you come on the right dates), and you can encounter traces of legendary beings familiar to our ancestors almost anywhere in the city: There’s Mari, the mother goddess who spends her time between Anboto in Urkiola Natural Park and Zeanuri’s Supelegor cave in the middle of Gorbeia Natural Park; the Basajaun, who lives in the depths of the forests; the galtzagorris, little pixies who often appear in Kortezubi near the prehistoric cave of Santimamiñe in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve; or the lamias, half women, half duck or fish, who often dwell close to the sea, such as in Elantxobe, or in streams further inland.
There are some especially legendary figures in Bilbao Bizkaia, such as Olentzero and Mari Domingi. Both live year-round in Izenaduba, the magic hamlet where all members of Basque mythology meet to make some very txiki (small) homemade delicacies. On 24 December each and every year, Olentzero and Mari Domingi head out into the streets of all the towns of Bizkaia with their loyal galtzagorris (goblins), where they have colourful and cheerful parades with music and traditional songs (though they have to hide again soon after, because this is the night that gifts and dreams are shared all across Bizkaia).
Another deep-rooted Christmas tradition is the Santo Tomás market, which takes place on 21 December. This traditional Christmas fair is celebrated far and wide throughout Bizkaia, though the biggest can be found in Bilbao. The Paseo del Arenal and the Plaza Nueva in Bilbao’s Old Quarter fill with stands offering our best baserris, crucial ingredients for our gastronomy’s most typical Christmas recipes: capons, vegetables, pulses, chestnuts, doughnuts, honey, Idiazabal and Karrantza cheeses, folk art… It’s all the best bits of Bizkaia’s rural world in the centre of the city.
Whether you’re a Food, Urban, Nature, Sea or Basque Lover, come and see what Bilbao Bizkaia has in store for you this winter!